Giorgia Meloni and far-right Brothers of Italy top vote

The political leader of the Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni.

Marco Cantile | light rocket | Getty Images

Italians are about to elect the country’s first female prime minister and the first far-right-led government since the end of World War II.

Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party will win between 22.5% and 26.5% of the vote, according to an overnight poll on Sunday night. The party is in a broad right-wing coalition with the Lega, led by Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and a smaller coalition partner, Noi Moderati.

This alliance will win between 41% and 45% of the vote, according to exit polls, enough to secure a parliamentary majority with the center-left bloc from 22.5% to 26.5%. The first projections of the actual election results are expected on Monday morning.

Achieving a political consensus and cementing a coalition could take weeks, and a new government may only come to power in October. But the vote could mark a major political shift for a key European country facing ongoing economic and political instability.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party was created in 2012, but has its roots in Italy’s 20th-century neo-fascist movement that emerged after the death of fascist leader Benito Mussolini in 1945. A speech by Meloni in 2019 help become a household name when an unsuspecting DJ. remixed her words (“I’m Giorgia, I’m a woman, I’m a mother, I’m Italian, I’m Christian”) into a dance music song, which went viral.

After winning 4% of the vote in the 2018 election, the Brothers of Italy and Meloni, 45, used their position in opposition to springboard into the mainstream. Meloni has taken great steps to appeal to a more moderate center-right majority in Italian society and claims to have rid his party of fascist elements.

Incumbent Mario Draghi, a much-loved technocrat who was forced out by political infighting in July, remains in power in a caretaker role. Sunday’s snap election in the EU’s third-largest economy comes six months before it is due to be held.

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The election is being watched closely in Brussels as the European region grapples with the war in Ukraine, an energy crisis and rising inflation. Brothers of Italy has reversed its opposition to the euro, but advocates EU reform to make it less bureaucratic and less influential in domestic politics.

On the economic front, he stuck to the centre-right coalition’s position that the next government should cut sales taxes on certain goods to ease the cost-of-living crisis and said Italy should renegotiate its bailout funds. recovery from Covid-19 with the EU. The party has been pro-NATO and pro-Ukraine and supports sanctions against Russia.

Center-left politicians fear that relations with the rest of Europe will change under a government led by Meloni. Enrico Letta, the head of the Democratic Party, told CNBC earlier this month that Italy had two options when it came to Europe: stay at the top level of economies and governance or be “relegated.”

″[The] The first option is to maintain our position in the ‘first division’. First division means Brussels and Germany, France, Spain, the big European countries, the founders, like us. [The] second option is to go down to the second division with Poland and Hungary, deciding to stay with them against Brussels, against Berlin, against Paris and Madrid,” Ambrosetti said during the economic forum in early September.

“I think it would be a disaster for Italy to choose the second division,” he said.

Italy's Letta says the country is on the right track and hopes to convince voters to stay the course

—CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this article.

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